Sago pudding is a sweet pudding made with sago pearls. Sago is made from starch obtained from the trunk of the sago palm; tapioca, which is similar to sago, is extracted from the cassava plant root. The sago palm trees are abundantly cultivated in South Asia and are harvested when they are about five years old. The sago palm trunks are sawed open lengthwise and the starchy pulp inside the trunk is extracted. This starchy pulp is used to make sago flour and sago pearls.
It is possible to buy sago pearls at most supermarkets and food stores. The other ingredients required to make sago pudding include milk, butter, eggs, vanilla, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. Indian palm jaggery or palm sugar can be used instead of regular white sugar to flavor the pudding; the sago pearls themselves do not have any flavor. Mango, coconut or lemon can also be used in addition to give the sago pudding a more interesting flavor. Corn flour and custard powder may be used to adjust the consistency of the pudding; the pudding can be thin or quite thick, depending on preference.
There are may different recipes for making sago pudding, but the basic process is quite simple. The sago pearls are immersed in water and soaked for a few hours or even overnight. The water is then drained away and the sago pearls are set aside. The milk is boiled, and cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg are added to it as it boils. The heat is turned down, and eggs, custard powder and vanilla are whisked together and added to the hot milk.
The soaked sago pearls are now added to the pot and the mixture is stirred from time to time to keep the sago pearls from clumping together. The pot should be removed from heat after the sago pearls have turned soft and transparent. The mixture is whisked and allowed to cool for a while, and it is then poured into a baking pan that has been greased with melted butter. The sago and milk mixture is then baked at a medium temperature for a couple of hours. The sago pudding is done when it has turned golden brown in color.
It is possible to make layered sago puddings by baking each layer separately and spreading jam in between them. The pudding may be eaten hot or cold. In the same manner as other sweet desserts like tapioca pudding and rice pudding, sago pudding may be generally served at the end of a meal.